For the world of international track and field—the dominoes continue to fall.
Following the revelations by German broadcaster ARD in the December 2014 documentary, “Top Secret Doping: How Russia makes its winners’”, a second round of evidence has surfaced. In a follow-up documentary entitled,” Doping-Top Secret: The Shadowy World of Athletics,” ARD and scientists Michael Ashenden and Robin Parisotto of Australia analyze more than a decade of IAAF athlete blood tests. Ashenden and Parisotto, who created a method for accurately detecting EPO levels in individual blood tests, examined over ten-thousand blood tests across the 11 year period.
The result—beyond shocking—create a storyline of gross corruption and institutional cheating.
“Michael Ashenden and Robin Parisotto have determined that as many as 800 athletes in distance events ranging from 800 meters to the marathon have blood values which violate the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) definition of the biological passport, used to identify abnormalities in an athlete’s levels based on past testing.”
“…in the period of 2001-2012 every third medal won in the distance events at an Olympic Games or World Championships was won by an athlete with suspicious blood values.”
This statistic represents nearly 150 Olympic and World Championship medalists. Out of this staggering total, only four athletes have been officially held accountable for their individual blood tests. Only four athletes—out of almost 150 Olympic and World Championship medalists—have been stripped of their medal. For the rest of the field—cheating seems to have worked.
This systemic issue does not seem limited to Russia, however. In the same report, German journalist, Hajo Seppelt, led an investigation into EPO doping occurrences in Kenya. Disguising himself as an athlete manager, Seppelt is able to witness firsthand an athlete “being administered EPO intravenously by the doctor.” Additional testimonies cite Rita Jeptoo, three time Boston Marathon champion, who stated, “she has not seen blood testing done in Kenya since 2006.” In suite, further interviews with Kenyan coaches claim positive blood tests where suppressed in exchange for “bribes” and sponsorship contributions were funneled to Athletics Kenya Secretary General David Okeyo and President Isaiah Kiplagat.
"...Every third medal won in the distance events at an Olympic Games or World Championships was won by an athlete with suspicious blood values."
Although an investigation has purportedly been initiated, “Athletics Kenya called ARD’s reporting ‘libelous’ and charged the network with using ‘forged documents ostensibly from AK’.”
These stark allegations are cause for widespread concern—as a coach, an athlete, and as a simple spectator. As the sport of track and field continues to fight for relevance and spotlight within mainstream media and culture, a small scandal may cause a tidal-wave of angst and disappointment. A small scandal may alienate thousands of fans and potential spectators. But a large scandal and an international scandal? A scandal of this caliber may alienate an entire generation of fans—a reversible turn in this history of the sport.
The silver lining?
For the time being, ARD reports state—“there are no incriminating results for track and field’s two biggest international stars, Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt and British distance runner Mo Farah.”
Although this may provide a small semblance of hope and relief, this IAAF scandal yet to fully come to fruition. As you will continue to read—nothing comes without consequence. Institutional cheating, individual cheating, and blatant deception tend to always be revealed.
Gambaccini, P. (2015, August 3). New Documentary Alleges Widespread Russian, Kenyan Doping. Retrieved from Runners World: http://www.runnersworld.com/elite-runners/new-documentary-alleges-widespread-russian-kenyan-doping
Shryack, L. (2015, August 1). Dopers Gone Wild: New Documentary Suggests Corruption Is Rampant. Retrieved from FloTrack: http://www.flotrack.org/article/32714-dopers-gone-wild-new-documentary-suggests-corruption-is-rampant